Monday, January 7, 2008

Play it by ear...

This winter, Bean has had several ear infections. Each time she gets a runny nose or cold, no matter how fleeting or mild, her Eustachian tubes fill with fluid and become infected. Her doctor says "five or six infections a year is normal, and after that, we consider tubes." I find it hard to accept that half-a-dozen painful infections is "normal," and I really want to avoid the possibility of tubes. Furthermore, I'm not comfortable giving my Bean course after course of antibiotics - especially when the last three doses seem to have had no effect.

I asked Bean's pediatrician if there was anything we could do to prevent the ear infections, and she replied, "If you find out, let me know. Some kids are just prone to them." She wasn't interested in discussing any alternate therapies.

So, I started asking around and heard from several moms who had great success with chiropractic treatments. The premise is that when the vertebrae in the cervical spine area are out of alignment (which can occur during birth, through the many falls and tumbles toddlers take as they're learning to walk, etc.), the Eustachian tubes cannot drain properly and therefore are prone to infection.

So, we made an appointment with a chiropractor in the area - Dr. B. - who was recommended by several of the people I spoke with. Now, when I think "chiropractor," I think "snap, crackle, pop," so I was interested to see what the he would recommend (no way I was having Bean's spine cracked).

After going through Bean's medical history, Dr. B. showed us on his plastic skeleton how misalignment causes pressure on the nerves that allow the Eustachian tubes to open, causing them to remain closed. Removing that pressure lets them open up and drain, and any infection is cleared. Accomplishing this requires exerting gentle pressure in the affected area: behind the ear where the skull meets the spine. He demonstrated the tool he would use on my finger: just a gentle pop. Then he adjusted Bean on both sides, gave her a "I love my chiropractor" sticker, and we were off. She was not bothered by the procedure at all and ate up all the attention and high-fives she received from the staff.

We have a few more treatments to complete. So far I haven't seen any of the tell-tale signs of an ear infections, and she does have a cold: so this will be a true test. I really hope this does the trick. If not, I'll be searching for some more alternative remedies while also working with her pediatrician.

Besides anecdotal evidence from the moms I talked to, this article discusses studies that have found chiropractic treatment of ear infections extremely effective. This is compared to the usual approach of using antibiotics, which are not always effective and can actually make children susceptible to more infections.

I will post an update on this issue soon.

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